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Job losses at Debenhams as store plans to reopen as ‘leaner and more flexible’

PUBLISHED: 15:19 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 21:43 29 May 2020

Debenhams is cutting jobs before reopening. Pic: Archant

Debenhams is cutting jobs before reopening. Pic: Archant

Around 20 people at Debenhams in Norwich are believed to have lost their jobs as the retailer plans to reopen next month.

Debenhams is cutting jobs before reopening. Pic: ArchantDebenhams is cutting jobs before reopening. Pic: Archant

One employee, who worked in the travel bureau on the fourth floor of Debenhams, Orford Place, and did not want to be named, told this newspaper she and 19 others were told they had lost their jobs in a conference call.

Workers from the travel money section and restaurant in Debenhams, which are staying closed, as well as staff trainers were told they had lost their jobs and would not receive redundancy, the woman said. Staff had been furloughed throughout coronavirus and had believed they would be kept on.

A spokesman from Debenhams confirmed that ‘a mixture of jobs were going in stores which will reopen for shorter hours and with fewer services and head office jobs’. He could not confirm exact numbers.

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The woman, aged 30, from Earlham, Norwich, a mother of a three-year-old, who’d worked at Debenhams for three years, said: “We were told to be on a conference call at 10.30am. Our store manager read out a statement from the CEO, we were told our jobs were no longer there and there would be no redundancy, no paid holiday and no questions were allowed.

“So I had a job yesterday, today I don’t. Before all of this, I was promoted to be a senior member of staff so I want to know why I didn’t mean enough to be relocated?”

She said she was now going to try and grow her own beauty business and would have to rely on her partner’s income, who was self-employed.

It comes as Debenhams, which is in administration for the second time in a year, is set to cut hundreds of jobs across its stores.

A spokesman said: “The total numbers involved are to be confirmed once we have gone through the full reopening process.

“Debenhams’ preparations to reopen the vast majority of its stores from June 15 are well under way following the successful conclusion of lease negotiations on 120 stores. The management team is working on the future shape of the group, with a view to seeking an exit from administration as a going concern.

“With a leaner and more flexible operating model, Debenhams will have the ability to adapt to what are likely to be fundamental shifts in the future trading environment.”

Debenhams was already struggling before lockdown, having fallen into administration on April 9 and it announced the permanent closure of 12 stores – including in Great Yarmouth – with thousands of job losses.

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